Who’s The Dummy, Mummy?

February 10, 2009

Rachel Cooke thinks that I’m a dummy. Okay, maybe not me specifically, but women like me. Women who talk or write incessantly about their children and their experience as mothers. Women who, when asked how they’re doing, launch into a extended narrative about sleeplessness and breastfeeding and hormones and Xanax. Women who are – how did she put it? – “boring, selfish, smug and obsessed with motherhood.”

Like I said: women like me.

“Once upon a time,” says Cooke, “educated women fought to separate their identities from the ideal of mother, knowing that until the two came to be seen as wholly distinct they would never be taken seriously; and, in any case, who wants to be defined by only one aspect of their life? In the past decade, however, a growing number of women have reverted, 50s-style, to identifying themselves primarily, vociferously, and sometimes exclusively, as mothers. They fetishise childbirth, and obsess about all that follows it, in a way that is almost, if not quite, beyond satire, and which makes me feel a bit sick.”

Which, whatever. So she’s not interested in mothers; I can live with that. I wasn’t all that interested in motherhood before I became a mother, either. But there’s a very great difference between lacking an interest in a subject and asserting that any discussion or celebration of that subject is somehow subversive of broader social goods. That someone, anyone, lacks an interest in the motherhood does not mean that the celebration of motherhood or extensive discourse on the subject of motherhood represent broader social problems for which mothers should be held responsible. I mean, seriously. I’m not interested in hip-hop, but would it make sense for me to say, on that basis, that pop-cultural attention to hip-hop is fetishistic and sick-making? I’ve certainly had the experience – pre-motherhood – of being trapped in conversations with women who went on at length about the details of childrearing and wondering how I was a) going to escape, and b) scrub my brain of the mental image of mustard poo, but I’ve also had that very same experience with people who only want to talk about politics (an occupational hazard as a former academic specializing in political philosophy) or cats or global warming. The fact that those subjects, in excess, cause my eyes to roll back in my head does not mean that anyone who is passionate about those things is an out-of-control fetishist. It only means that I am not interested.

Like any reflective bigot, Ms. Cooke asserts that she is not attacking all mothers – some her best friends are mothers! but they’re, like, the smart kind who you don’t mind hanging out with! – just the smug, stupid mothers who talk too much about being mothers. Because, you know, it’s not that mothers as a community are sickening in their fetishistic attachment to the terms and trappings of motherhood. It’s that so many of them are, and Ms. Cooke is starting to find it overwhelming. Can’t we all just shut up already about childbirth and our children and everything having to do with our children? Don’t we realize that the more we talk about this stuff, the more stupid and smug and selfish and Stepford we sound? Can’t we see that we are setting women back? And, also, nauseating everybody in the process?

This is what is, to me, most hateful about Cooke’s diatribe: the assertion that there is not only something unseemly and uninteresting about the discourse of motherhood, but also something fundamentally unfeminist about it. This is Linda Hirschmann Lite: devotion to motherhood is somehow not deserving of respect, because it limits - limits - women to a life experience that has been dictated, in some part, by the terms of their biology. This is biology-as-destiny, this is femininity-as-enclosure: this is what prevents us from being free, like, men, to do whatever we want. This is an old feminist argument (one, if you’re interested, that has roots in Marx), that women need to be liberated from their biological destinies – from the almost-inevitable biological condition of motherhood – so that they might work and contribute to society like men, because only then do they meaningfully contribute to society, only then are they members in full, only then are they interesting.

This is bullshit. Women do not become free by rejecting motherhood, by ignoring motherhood, by keeping the stories of motherhood hidden behind the veil, the wall, the enclosures of the private sphere. Women become free, in some significant part, by celebrating motherhood – by celebrating parenthood (men love their children too, you know, and some might even choose to make parenting their primary occupation, if it were more generally accepted and recognized as important work) – by demanding that it be as valued a part of civil society as politics and business and the arts and, you know, whatever else people like Rachel Cooke and Linda Hirschmann deem to be important and interesting. Celebrating motherhood doesn’t mean that every woman must choose motherhood as part of her life experience – we celebrate all variety of callings, without insisting that any of them are necessary for every individual’s self-fulfillment – it only means that we all of us recognize that mothering – parenting – and all that it involves is important work. Which means, in turn, we recognize discourse on those subjects as important discourse.

This is not to say, of course, that every anecdote about poo explosions in public places or every detailed explanation of the effects of sleep deprivation on the post-partum mother is in itself a critically important contribution to public discourse. It is to say, rather, that the sum of these stories is important: that in telling these stories, and in recognizing these stories as legitimate and important, we are sharing – we are making public, we are lifting the veil on – the experience of motherhood and demanding that it be taken seriously as something that contributes to – that is, arguably, the backbone of – civil society. Not every one of these stories will be interesting to everyone; many will be interesting only to a very few. But they are our stories, the stories of our parenthood. And we are, in telling these stories, telling each other – telling other mothers, telling fathers, telling future mothers and fathers – that there is no need to be (and every harm in being) isolated in one’s experience of parenthood. We are telling each other that there is community in parenthood, and that such community should be sought out and embraced.

Cooke summarizes her argument with this statement: “all this droning on about baby and toddler world is not, in the long run, doing any of us any good. For me, and many other women, it’s boring and selfish, and it implicitly casts judgment on the way we choose to live our lives.” I’m sorry that she feels that way. I, for one, am quite capable of listening to my husband’s colleagues drone on about the TV industry without feeling like I’m being judged for not being in that industry. I am also, for that matter, quite capable of listening to childless friends talk about their careers and their active social lives and their travel adventures without feeling as though they pity me for always having a baby strapped to my chest. If she feels judged, that’s her issue, not a larger social problem that needs to be nipped in the bud. Indeed, as I’ve said above, this compulsion to silence mothers, to insist to them that their stories are not worthy of sharing in public spaces, to demand that they just shut up already about their silly children and their silly fascination with organic baby food and sleep training and post-partum depression – this is the larger social problem. It’s a terrible social problem. It does more to keep women silenced and isolated than pretty much anything else I can think of.

So if anyone should just shut up already and stop complaining and judging and holding women back with her need to control what women talk about… well, you know who you are.


(Thanks to Karen for the tip on the story. Funny how she knew just exactly what would make my head explode.)

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    verybadcat February 11, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Whether it makes my comment more or less valid, I’m not sure, but…

    I don’t have children. Yet.

    What really gets me about all of this is that it would seems that women will not ever support each other. Working moms support working moms, scoff at and/or jealous of stay at home moms, and vice versa…

    Women who have decided not to have children look down their noses at the women who have decided that it is best for them and their babies to be a mother, primarily, in those early years.

    Women who have not had babies yet are regarded with some suspicion- will she or won’t she- does she get it or doesn’t she? And in turn they lash out at Mothers for saying “you’ll understand when you have a baby”.

    Oh, God, is that hard to hear. I’m sure it’s true. How could it not be, and I’ve said to people “you’ll understand when you get your first job, first house, start college, have your own dog, blah, blah. Yet we see it as a dig at us, that we are lesser than because we’ve not yet become mothers.

    Anyone that drones on and on about anything for too long is boorish.

    I am probably at least three years away (trying to finish school!) from even trying to get knocked up, and I never tire of your stories. Ever. They have value to me. They are entertaining. I feel that they prepare me for my own motherhood- both in reading your experiences and in knowing that I can reach out then, when I understand, when I walk down that path. You have given me the courage not to sit silent when I am at my wits end with the sleeplessness and the philosophical dilemmas. You really have. I will not hesitate to ask my own mother, my aunt, my friends, the world for help, guidance and understanding.

    I can’t figure it out, though. I have a blog. I’m a corporate drone, a worker bee. Married. Nearly thirty. Quite a boring creature. I prattle on about the latest marriage spat, or the work conflicts, or my aching tooth, or waxing my legs. But I am not boring and self involved, apparently, because I’m not in the phase in my life yet that I will dedicate to my children? It’s very puzzling. I mean, score!, I guess, but it doesn’t seem right.

    Oh, and Catherine? Why are you letting babies starve? You are, aren’t you? After all, your babies are cared for, and didn’t she say that your babies being cared for causes starving babies? Huh? If she is so concerned about starving babies, they why doesn’t she take half of the money she’s saving by not having babies to care for a few in poorer nations. Oops! Did I say that?!

    Susan Getgood February 11, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Well said Catherine.

    I saw Mrs. Flinger’s pointer to your post on Twitter amidst the discussion of the latest breastfeeding incident at Denny’s and found the juxtaposition very apropos.

    Ms. Cooke’s attitude and uproar over women breastfeeding in public are both symptomatic of disdain for the female experience.

    All female experience.

    Moms At Work February 11, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    WOW. Great response.
    I am so tired of women attacking other women. Isn’t the real goal of “feminism” to allow women to do choose to do what we want?


    Undomestic Diva February 11, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    I hope she has kids some day.

    What a C U Next Tuesday, you know what I’m sayin’?

    Brooke February 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Oh, my. With all of the news stories about PPD, and post-partum psychosis, parents leaving their teenagers at hospitals, shaken baby syndrome… all of these things that I think are somewhat exacerbated by people just not having an OUTLET for the FRUSTRATIONS of parenting… I think her statement is pretty dangerous. I wonder how many women that really, truly need to vent for their own sanity were silenced by this judgment.

    Her Bad Mother February 11, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    kgirl – oooh, good point. there’s definitely a comparison to be made between this kind of stuff and the stuff that foments the so-called Mommy Wars.

    Sif February 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    First, let me say that I love your blog. Second, I am SO glad that you wrote about this stupid article. I live in London and usually buy the Sunday Observer (generally a great paper). I couldn’t believe this article — I was shocked that my favorite Sunday paper had chosen this article for its feature in the Women’s Monthly. Hurray for your rant! Thank you.

    Amber February 11, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Amen! I thoroughly enjoyed your rant, and agree with every word you’ve written. So I’m not interesting to you? Fine by me. But that doesn’t mean I’m setting back the cause of women. Good grief.

    Amanda February 11, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I find it wildly entertaining that most of you were so anxious to jump on her for ‘throwing women under the bus’, and yet you turn around and do the same thing because she’s said something you find offensive. She’s free to not participate in your dialogue? You’re free to not freak out about one woman’s opinion and let it dictate the tone of your day. You are, of course, also free to call her a ‘C U Next Tuesday’ (seriously?? women are still using vagina/vulva slang as a put-downs) and bitch and moan about why you’re right and she’s wrong. I just hope you can see the hypocrisy evident in both.

    Deb on the Rocks February 11, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I think Rachel lifted half of her opinions from the Sex and the City episode with the baby shower.

    I’ve taken tons of this heat in my life from friends who didn’t understand why a young queer feminist (at that time) would dummify her life by not only having kids but actually getting into their development, changing career paths for them, and advocating for justice and good education systems for them. I was a great disappoint to feminist “friends” like Rachel. So an advance of feminism in the last two decades has been that instead of these thoughts being levied against us in our university hallways or after domestic violence rallies, those attacks are now in mainstream media think pieces? Nice.

    Rachael February 11, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Wow. I am so offended by this that I can barely even think of something to say. When I decided to be a SAHM, I felt like it was not what was expected. That I was expected to go to work. I know that women fought hard for equality, but personally, I love being home with my kids and don’t really care much about having some big career. Sure, I could work, make money, and use it to pay for someone else to take care of my kid, but it’s just not for me.

    My main problem with Cooke is that she is so judgemental. I mean, it’s great when women want to have careers. But when you decide to be a SAHM, that is your life and there’s not all that much else to talk about. If she doesn’t like it, why doesn’t she just stop reading it? I try hard NOT to blab on about my kid to my non-mom friends unless they want to hear it. I think she is generalizing and attacking moms for no reason.

    Like you said – anyone that talks about ANYTHING for too long gets boring whether it be cars, politics, or baby poop. Why can’t we just live and let live?

    BaltimoreGal February 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I don’t have kids- I’d like to but I want a man in the picture. :-S

    Sometimes I can get a little bored by friends’ mommy talk. But I am quite sure I bore others by dog talk. So we come out even.

    You think/talk/write about what is going on in your life! No one should be picked on for that.

    Aimee Morrison February 11, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    What gets me is that somehow mothering and feminism are incompatible: you hold the cause back if you want to talk about mothering. So what is the option? Not having kids? I don’t see how that furthers the feminist cause.

    Here’s what I know: I am a feminist and a mother. If I didn’t talk about it, get help with my mothering, everything else would fall apart. Am I just supposed to pretend that being someone’s mother hasn’t changed me? That’s ridiculous, dishonest, and crazy-making. Not the kind of feminism I’m particularly interested in participating in.

    Shannon February 11, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Yes, yes, yes and YES. I can’t say more than that, because my hands are sore from all the clapping I’ve been doing while I read this post. ;)

    mominsanity February 11, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I loved how you told this woman to go shove it in an educated, in your face, way. You rock lady! Keep it up!

    tali February 11, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    I am usually just lurking (I am one of Lara David’s “real life friends”) but today I just have to say: RIGHT ON. AMEN. Thank you for writing so well

    Her Bad Mother February 11, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Amanda – “I find it wildly entertaining that most of you were so anxious to jump on her for ‘throwing women under the bus’, and yet you turn around and do the same thing because she’s said something you find offensive. She’s free to not participate in your dialogue? You’re free to not freak out about one woman’s opinion and let it dictate the tone of your day.”

    Amanda – she raised the issue; I’m engaging it. I absolutely think that I’m right and she’s wrong. More than that: I think that she’s made an offensive, counter-feminist argument. So I said so. She expressed an opinion that I find offensive; I’m critiquing that opinion. How is that hypocritical? If it IS hypocritical, then all critique/critical discourse is hypocritical.

    Socrates would SPIN in his grave.

    Heather February 11, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    “it limits – limits – women to a life experience that has been dictated, in some part, by the terms of their biology.”

    My one comment is on this quote. I don’t understand why so many people think that if you have children you give up everything else. I mean, why can’t you take your children with you on your travels, to baseball games, when you go hiking? You don’t have to give up your passions and your “life” when you have children.

    carrie February 11, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    So, in essence, this wack-a-do Rachael whomever, is saying that SHE wants to control what OTHER women write?

    ‘Cause that’s what I’m getting.

    Talk about the one with a problem. I’m sorry, but when did MY experience as a mother become someone else’s to dictate? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

    In other words, I agree w/you.

    daniloth February 11, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    One of the things I found so liberating about the feminism I studied in school was the inclusiveness. Working is good, being at home is good, having no kids is good, having kids is fine too. It really saddens me that RC would define it otherwise. One of the most important things feminism has done is pull back the curtain on the work, physical and emotional, of motherhood. We need to understand and acknowledge that working in the home is as much labour as working out of it. And one is as necessary and important as the other.

    What struck me about this article though was RC’s regrettable attitude about her friendships. Friendship can be based on shared experiences, but the more lasting ones transcend sharing the same experiences and become a sharing of each other’s experiences. Even if those are a lack of sleep and an abundance of brain fog and a post-partum short-term obsession with your child’s activities as a reflection of their well-being and your ability to parent. I’m glad my friends have been more understanding than RC. They’ve been patient enough to let me work through my post-partum hormonal crazies, and even managed to be supportive. I’ve been lucky, I guess.

    Anonymous New York February 11, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    The point of feminism, as I understand it, is to give us the same opportunities as our male counterparts. Now that we have (somewhat) equal opportunity, we can make choices as rational human beings, depsite being biologically predisposed childbearers.

    According to this NY Times article, after having all of the opportunity the American Dream can afford, some some of us will choose to make our careers in the home.


    How then have we failed at our feminist goals? As long as we teach our children that they, too, have the same CHOICE, feminism will continue to survive.

    Veronica Mitchell February 11, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Well said.

    One thing I found puzzling about the original post was her claim that public mothering conversations are somehow new. It’s as though she views the Victorian sequestering of motherhood as the baseline for normal. In some sense, the conversations online and in public that are possible today are only a return to a more natural kind of communal life, where everyone was aware of motherhood and children because children and mothers were everywhere.

    Mamalooper February 11, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    One of the most wonderful results of the blogosphere and specifically the telling of womens’ and moms’ stories is that is a bit of an equalizer. Our stories are just as important and one could argue MORE relevant than some theories by a German philosopher who was just writing to be the most clever of his other German philosopher colleagues.

    Does it have to be either/or? Can’t it just be “and”? Most women have children and have a life outside of their mothering.

    And why is being a childless equivalent to the old patriarchal 50 year old white male the ideal? Boring straw man argument…

    Anonymous February 11, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I always think it is funny that if you ask a woman who is not a mother what she has been up to and she launches into a whole blah, blah, blah about her career as a lawyer, she is none of those, not “boring, selfish, smug and obsessed” with being a lawyer. Currently, my job is being a mother. It is what I do and thus a HUGE part of who I am and therefore, much of what I have to talk about. I don’t think that it makes be “obsessed with motherhood,” just conscientious and excited about my job. Someday, when my kids are grown I will get a, ahem, ‘real job’ and then I will talk about that all the time and I will be considered “boring, selfish, smug and obsessed.” Ms. Cooke can bite me.

    Meera February 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Actually, I dont think she was talking about women like you! or like me for that matter! (i have a 2 year old) Most women who have children on the brain talk to other moms or other parents and thats perfectly normal! But I would daresay that most of us would not go accost a stranger at a party or even someone who knows us well with endless accounts of our kids stories ( a blog doesnt count cause you dont have to read it) without so much as a ‘So whats going on in your life?’.

    toyfoto February 11, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I read these things that get people all up in arms and I just laugh and laugh. I was someone like her, once. Although with a few exceptions … I didn’t call people dummies. I didn’t judge their interests of the moment.

    But what I was was afraid. I was afraid I wouldn’t be happy in a life that was different. As I was plugging along at my career, I hadn’t met anyone I’d even want to risk such a change. The planets aligned in someway that allowed it eventually and I learned an entirely new lexicon. And one I never would have been able to penetrate had I not had children.

    It’s my fervent belief that our superficial interests in our kids’ poop will last approximately three to five years (provided there are no lingering problems). But if you read between the lines the shit we’re dishing out has a much deeper meaning.

    She can barely scratch the surface.
    Only a mommy can safely say they have “Mommy Brain.”

    toyfoto February 11, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I forgot to mention, that I’d cut her some slack for that alone.

    Everything provides food for thought.

    Her Bad Mother February 11, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Meera, dude: I am SO one of those women who, if asked by someone, anyone, how I am doing, immediately launches into BIG SIGH, oh, I am so sleep deprived baby doesn’t sleep blah blah blah. Even the merest HINT of polite interest will set me off.

    I’m not like that all the time, and I would hope that I’d be sensitive to the cues of others (“dead eyes” as Cooke describes) but c’mon: mothering is 70% of my existence. I talk about it A LOT.

    courtney February 11, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    It’s just so frustrating. I don’t see how her being bored my motherhood talk is any different than me being bored by political talk coming from a politician. It’s just not my bag and I find myself really really bored. That’s all that this is. She’s bored by motherhood and that’s fine, but… seriously? Mothers talking mommy talk are a setback to society? That’s insulting.

    Domestic Extraordinaire February 11, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    I have lost many a friends because they didn’t like that I had essentially become “June Cleaver” (altho if you know me you know I am not June, not really anyways…LOL)

    It sucks that women are putting other women down because they chose to embrace motherhood. I say if you don’t like what us moms are writing, then stop reading! We aren’t writing it for “you” anyways.

    Many hugs to you dear Catherine!

    Anonymous February 11, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    just for the record, DUMMY, across the pond, means PACIFIER

    Darx February 11, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I think this woman will get her come-uppance when she is invited to fewer parties in the future or avoided by people at the ones she attends.

    Karen Sugarpants February 11, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I think what bothered me more about the entire article is that I know my friends who do not have children, do not feel this way.
    If you’re not interested in parenting, stay off the parenting websites, sugar.
    Well said, C. (as always) but I am sorry for any explosions of thy noggin. :)

    Anonymous February 11, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    I think a lot of people here are missing the point of her article. I don’t think the author minds that some women talk about motherhood. It’s just when they can talk about NOTHING ELSE and cannot fathom asking a child(less)(free) woman a question about their lives.

    It’s myopic. I’m a mother and I talk about motherhood almost exclusively with other mothers but I so value my time with women who are 1. old friends or 2. child(less)(free) so that I can talk about something else.

    Besides, it’s just good manners to behave in give-and-take conversation. Indeed, I have seen some mothers who have not been able to pop out of their motherhood world to do so. I find this as annoying as the stockbroker who won’t stop talking about work or the artist who won’t stop talking about the art world. Again, it’s simply bad manners as well as a limited view of the world. By all means, everyone needs to ask a question now and then!

    Her Bad Mother February 11, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Anon 7:49 – I have no quarrel with her not wanting to talk about motherhood. I have no issue with her saying that women who ONLY talk about motherhood irritate her. What bothers me – as I said above – is that she extrapolates this irritation to a broader social problem. She derides mothers who identify first and/or fully as mothers as counter-feminist; she insists that devoting oneself to one’s children is backwards (“50′s style”). She claims that this is a social problem, that it’s harmful in some way to women and to society generally.

    I think that that argument is both stupid and dangerous.

    Pamala February 11, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I was angered and confused by this article which is why I had to write about it as well. Of course it’s nothing like your post which is well thought out. I came to the conclusion that this woman is jealous of mothers who get attention because it’s not on her.

    The Any Key February 11, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I don’t see it as a feminist issue, I agree it’s more about womens’ typical behavior to judge and criticize one another too much.

    Obviously this woman was bored to near death by the woman at the party, but does she really need to lash out at women across the entire globe as a result? I mean, there is such a thing as saying if you aren’t interested, or if after two minutes of listening, the lady shows no signs of coming up for air or changing the subject, she could politely excuse herself.

    I’m sure someone as “well-read and worldly” as she says she is would be able to find a polite way of expressing her disinterest, at the very least.

    I doubt her friends are as gracious and ‘understanding’ about her disinterest in the topic as she says, she probably wrote that into her article to ensure she wouldn’t offend those closest to her. I’m sure they will mention even less about their children to her after reading that article.

    Maybe one day she’ll become a mother (god forbid, apparently) and will realize that sometimes, you need to say it to everyone who will listen. Sometimes, you don’t have time to keep up with Michelle Obama’s fashion trends and who is dating who. Some people actually raise their kids, spend time with them, teach them things.

    They don’t just put them in a rocker and read a magazine, go online, etc.

    People talk about what interests them. I am glad when people talk about their babies, I think it’s part of what makes them good parents.

    It gives me a little more faith in the next generation to know that the parents are THERE.

    April February 11, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    You know how sometimes, when people are gay they are first really homophobic… maybe as a coping mechanism or denial or somesuchsomething? I think, maybe, she just really wants to be a midwestern mom with lots of kids to stay at home with ALL DAY LONG.


    No, really, she sounds like a self-righteous bitch.

    Chantal February 11, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I read it and was, like you, outraged. But I totally agree with Mr Lady way up there. It doesn’t matter. None of it.

    She reached her goal with this one. To instigate an outcry and interest and good on her. She did her job.

    I think she would be shocked to sit around a table with my mom friends. After playing sports where we get knocked around, we drink beer and talk about our babies, our husbands, sex, politics, religion, liquor. You name it. We swear like truckers and check out men as they walk by.

    The only thing different than 10 years ago is that we all have to get up in the morning and wipe someone’s ass.

    And it rocks.

    Ivy February 11, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    very well said

    sherry February 11, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Catherine, very well said. As always, you put a well thought out retort out there that makes me proud to know you. :)

    Her article SCREAMS of the stuff submitted to publications in a down news cycle in order to get a good rise of readers. Clearly, it worked.

    What I’m most concerned about is this sort of thing, in my opinion is just nonsense. It’s not contributory in the least, and makes women appear to be so dichotomous; either you’re with us, meaning mothers, or your against us, the Cooke camp. Black or white. A or B. C’mon. The world doesn’t work that way.

    Personally, it’s hogwash. There is no reason we can’t all co-exist and respect the decisions we each make with regards to who has children and what the hell we talk about at cocktail parties.

    Allysha February 11, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Well said. That article made me nuts.

    Amanda February 11, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Her Bad Mother: ‘Amanda – she raised the issue; I’m engaging it. I absolutely think that I’m right and she’s wrong. More than that: I think that she’s made an offensive, counter-feminist argument. So I said so. She expressed an opinion that I find offensive; I’m critiquing that opinion. How is that hypocritical? If it IS hypocritical, then all critique/critical discourse is hypocritical.

    Socrates would SPIN in his grave.’

    How can it be bullshit to state an opinion? You sound like Jack Black and John Cusack in High Fidelity – an opinion is wrong only when it conflicts with your own. And your invocation of Socrates was cute and all, but I’m more of a Protagoras girl myself.

    Critique/critical discourse can be a great forum to discuss opposing points of view. But you’re not having an open discourse – you responded in a format, in a place, that Cooke probably won’t read and doesn’t care about. Own your point of view, and share it however you like, whenever you like – I’m not saying anyone shouldn’t – just know that everyone else is entitled to do the same, and shouldn’t be personally attacked for it.

    mothergoosemouse February 11, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    She has no children. What does she know anyway? Pass.

    Her Bad Mother February 11, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Amanda – when or where did I suggest that she is not entitled to her opinion? And where is the personal attack? I attacked her argument – and am owning it – and according to *your* own argument, I’m entitled to do that.

    I’m completely confused about what your point is. That I should not have challenged her opinion? That my commenters should not have challenged her opinion? That nobody should ever respond to arguments if the authors of those arguments might never hear the response? That it’s wrong to say that one thinks that another’s opinion is wrong?

    Not sure where you’re going with all this. She wrote something; I disagreed in writing. What’s the problem?

    Momily February 11, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I see there are 95 comments and I’m much too dumb to read them all, so here is my 2 cents and I apologize if I am being grossly reduntant or “incontinent” as Ms. Cooke so nicely put it!

    1) you are the furthest thing from a “dummy mummy” that there could be as this blog is incredibly thoughtful, current, witty, political, insightful, etc,
    2) I wondered what happened to Ms. X – now we know!
    3)She is so out of touch it made me laugh – i would love to become a bit less “dumb” by doing things like going to the movies or say, travelling to fucking Austria, but i have so few childcare options that it is laughable. I’m guessing I’m not alone on this one!
    4)She sucks.

    Karen (miscmum) February 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I agree with Mr Lady.

    Does Rachel care about what we’re talking about here? I doubt it. I daresay she put her petard out there to be hoisted, which is what she’s being paid to do.

    At the end of the day though, I’ll forget her comments because they are irrevelant to me and my life, as I am to hers.

    K February 11, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    I always thought the feminist movement was about giving women choices. Work, stay at home, some combination of both, have kids, don’t, whatever…the key being that we, as women, would no longer be dictated to by men as to what our roles in life would be.

    When did we get so far away from that that women now bash other women for making their own decisions? And THEN having the nerve to be happy and excited about it and wanting to talk about it??? THE NERVE OF THOSE WOMEN TO ENJOY MOTHERHOOD!!!

    We’re crippling ourselves and our push for equality by stabbing each other in the back over the very decisions we fought so hard to be able to make!

    Momily February 11, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    how appropriate that I’m not even smart enought to spell redundant correctly!
    5) I’ve been bored out of my mind in social situations by both parents and the “child-free” – so what! sometimes we find people boring, regardless of whether they’ve reproduced or not.

    As for Ms. Protagoras, where, pray tell, should we be sharing these comments that Ms. Cooke can view them and “care” about them? Please share, I’m sure several of would be eager to go there.

    No Mother Earth February 11, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    The kind of article that she wrote (and I read every word) always baffles me. OF COURSE we’re going to talk about motherhood. People – all people – talk about the thing that most interests them, OR the thing that consumes the most of their time, be it hobbies or work or, yes, parenting. What else should we talk about, exactly?? I have kids, but if I just read a fantastic book that I can’t stop thinking about, I talk about that incessantly till I move on to something else. If one of my kids does something that amuses me, same deal. This is human nature. If it bores you, DON’T LISTEN. Problem solved.

    (For the record, I found her article a little boring. Yes, I’m a mother AND a bitch. Discuss.)

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